THE number of nursing and midwifery staff working in the NHS in Scotland increased slightly at the end of last year, figures reveal.
The nursing headcount on 31 December was 65,610, up 0.4 per cent compared with 65,380 at the end of September.
Full-time equivalent nursing and midwifery staff stood at 56,608.5 on 31 December, up 0.6 per cent from 56,263.5 in September.
The total number of staff in posts across the NHS increased 0.5 per cent, from 131,845.2 (full-time equivalent) in September to 132,541.5 in December.
Previous figures have shown a drop in staff levels as health boards have struggled to balance their books.
The publication of the latest workforce statistics came as health secretary Alex Neil launched a planning tool for community nurses.
The tool is said to help health boards plan the number of community nurses they require by looking at factors such as the number of patients, the complexity of the care, time required for travel, and additional time for unexpected disruptions or tasks such as administration, before working out staffing levels which are needed.
Speaking at a Nursing in Practice conference, Mr Neil said: “More people are being treated in the community and hospital stays are shorter than ever, so the shape and size of the NHS workforce is changing. I want to make sure that the right mix and numbers of staff are working in our communities to provide quality care to our patients.”